Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

Title: Sweet Tooth
Author: Ian McEwan
Source: Kindle for iPad
This book would be rated: PG-13 for sexual situations
Enjoyment Rating: ***

Serena Frome is a recent graduate of Cambridge with a third in maths (which is barely graduating from college, from what I gather), a love for contemporary literature, and a secret affair with an older professor. During their summer of love (this is 1972, after all), the professor confides that he's really a member of MI5, part of the British Secret Intelligence. They part ways, and Serena soon finds herself being courted for a job with MI5. She works as a glorified secretary until she's recruited to work on Sweet Tooth, a project where she's one of several agents who courts authors and pays for them to do independent writing in hopes that they will write something favorable to the mission of MI5. The whole deal feels a little bit fishy to Serena, but it's a job, and after rejecting the advances of Max, her new boss, she finds herself quickly falling into an affair with Tom Haley, "her" author. When she finds herself falling in love with Tom, she has to decide how much she will tell him about her motives.

I love the way McEwan writes. But his writing deserves to be savored, and I read like a fast food eater. As a result, I often feel like I miss a lot of the nuance of McEwan's writing. I enjoyed the novel, but I felt I read it too quickly to do it justice. I often think of authors why rely on twists of plot as entertainers, and while I would put McEwan more on the artist side on the artist/entertainer divide, there is a significant, awesome plot twist that made the slow, pondering first 80% of the book worth reading.

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